PGA Tour does about-face on pro-am policy

By Doug FergusonSeptember 1, 2010, 3:15 am
NORTON, Mass. – Retief Goosen knows what a lousy feeling it is to oversleep and miss a pro-am time on the PGA Tour.

The reigning U.S. Open champion recalls hustling to Riviera, arriving when his group was on the first green. Because of a new Tour regulation, Goosen was ineligible for the 2005 Nissan Open. It was a blow to the sponsors because Goosen was among only three players from the top 10 in the world that week.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem heard the outcry and said officials would take another look at the rule, although he didn’t expect a change. “The rule was put into effect, and it accomplished its mission. And you can’t argue with that,” Finchem said.

Jim Furyk did the same thing last week at The Barclays. The reaction was entirely different.

Less than a week after Furyk, the No. 3 seed in the FedEx Cup, overslept and missed his pro-am time, Finchem announced he was suspending the regulation that led to Furyk being unable to play.

For the rest of the year, any player missing his pro-am starting time will be subject to punishment under “conduct unbecoming a professional.” What that means is unclear, for the Tour does not discuss disciplinary action. The player will be required to finish the pro-am round and may be required to do additional sponsor activities.

Anyone who misses his pro-am entirely is out of the tournament, unless he was excused.

“Certain players have a higher stature than other players,” Goosen said Tuesday at the TPC Boston. “Some players make a noise and nobody listens, and other players make a noise and everyone listens.”

Goosen thought it was unfair for Furyk to miss the tournament, just as he did at Riviera more than five years ago.

Nick Price went to bat for Goosen back then, suggesting that every player get one absence during the year. That’s what Goosen would like to see now.

“You should have at least one chance a year that something like this happens. At least you’re not disqualified,” he said. “Furyk being up there in the FedEx Cup, there was great sadness he wasn’t there. It was a great golf course for him. I’m sure he would have been up at the top with the leaders.”

Most peculiar about last week? Furyk wasn’t nearly as outraged as some of his colleagues. He blamed no one but himself when the charge on his cell phone – which he uses for an alarm clock – became disconnected and his phone went dead.

It was only the second time he had overslept for a pro-am in his 17-year career. The Tour did not adopt the pro-am regulation in 2004 because of players such as Furyk.

Phil Mickelson was among the most outspoken last week, noting that the rule only applies to those players – 54 out of 122 at The Barclays – who were in the pro-am. “I have no idea how the commissioner let this rule go through. It’s ridiculous,” he said.

Pat Perez said the Tour suspending the regulation was “long overdue,” and not many would disagree. In the case of Furyk and Goosen, both made a spirited attempt to get to the golf course. Furyk didn’t even take time to put on a belt or tie his shoes.

In a statement provided by the tour, Furyk said he was glad the PGA Tour has changed the rule, pleased that Finchem and his staff reacted swiftly.

As for conduct unbecoming? That suggests a fine would be in order, and that left Goosen skeptical.

“Certain players with so much money, they’ll pay $5,000 10 times a year not to play in the pro-am,” he said. “At the end of the day, you should get one relief a year for accidentally missing a tee time.”

Finchem has asked the Player Advisory Council and board to evaluate the rules to be discussed at the November board meeting.

The question is why the tour chose to suspend the regulation after Furyk was eliminated from the tournament, yet did not see a need to do anything after Goosen was suspended.

Furyk’s case brought more attention to the regulation because of his No. 3 ranking and the start of the playoffs, where every tournament helps a player get in position for the $10 million prize. A player has been knocked out of a tournament seven times for missing his pro-am, but this is the first time in happened in the playoffs.

As for Goosen?

Since missing his pro-am time at Riviera, he has requested afternoon pro-am times at every tournament.
Despite wild rumors on the Internet, Deutsche Bank is expected to pick up the final two years of its option this week, which will keep it as the title sponsor of the Deutsche Bank Championship through 2012.

It would continue an impressive run by the PGA Tour in a tough economy, the 19th piece of business – either a new title sponsor or an existing sponsor – since the start of 2009.

The tour is closer than ever to finding a sponsor for the World Golf Championship at Doral. That would leave only Hilton Head, St. Jude and the Bob Hope Classic as regular events without sponsorship.
Steve Stricker is golf’s version of “Mr. October,” even though he’s usually in a deer stand that month. Golf’s version of the playoffs are in August and September, but that’s when Stricker seems to play his best.

He is the only guy to have played all 52 rounds of the 13 playoff events since the FedEx Cup began in 2007. Stricker has won twice (’07 Barclays, ’09 Deutsche Bank), has one runner-up finish and has twice tied for third.

His earnings from the playoffs alone are $5,142,790 – or 19 percent of his career earnings on the PGA Tour. And that doesn’t include more than $5 million in FedEx Cup bonus money.

Stricker’s scoring average in playoff events is 68.9.
Tiger Woods is a combined 1 over par in 37 rounds he has completed this year. Not that it matters – he became ineligible for the Vardon Trophy when he withdrew in the middle of the fourth round at The Players Championship. … Woods was No. 1 in driving accuracy at The Barclays, hitting 79 percent of the fairways. In his previous two tournaments, he was last among 71 players at the PGA Championship, and 79th out of 80 players at the Bridgestone Invitational. … U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein, runner-up David Chung and Scott Langley will represent the United States at the World Amateur Team Championship, which will be Oct. 28-31 in Buenos Aires. … Along with going atop the PGA Tour money list, Matt Kuchar now leads the race for the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average.
Cameron Beckman, Derek Lamely, Matt Bettencourt and Bill Lunde are the only PGA Tour winners this year who did not advance out of the first round of the playoffs. They all won opposite-field events, which award only half of the points.
“Our decision is based on 14 1/2 .” – European captain Colin Montgomerie on his three wild-card picks, referring to the points required to win the Ryder Cup.
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Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

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Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.

Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.

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Davies sweeps senior majors with Sr. LPGA Championship

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 10:45 pm

FRENCH LICK, Ind. -- Laura Davies won the Senior LPGA Championship on Wednesday at chilly and windy French Lick Resort to sweep the two senior major events of the year.

Davies birdied the final hole for a 2-under 70 and a four-stroke victory over Helen Alfredsson and Silvia Cavalleri. The 55-year-old Englishwoman won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open in July at Chicago Golf Club. In March in Phoenix, she tied for second behind Inbee Park in the LPGA's Founders Cup.

''I wish there were more of them to play,'' Davies said about the two senior majors. ''This was a real treat because I've never put three good rounds together on this course. With the wind today and the challenging layout, I think 2 under par was a really good score.''

Full-field scores from the Senior LPGA Championship

Davies led wire to wire, finishing at 8-under 208 on The Pete Dye Course. She birdied three of the four par 5s in the final round, making an 8-footer on No. 18.

Alfredsson also shot 70, and Cavalleri had a 71. Michele Redman was fourth at 1 under after a 73. Brandie Burton, two strokes behind Davies after a second-round 66, shot 77 to finish fifth at 1 over.

Juli Inkster followed an 80 with a 73 to tie for 12th at 6 over.

Davies earned $90,000 for her 86th worldwide professional victory. She won four regular majors.

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For Korean women, golf is a double-edged sword

By Randall MellOctober 17, 2018, 10:30 pm

There is always a story behind the tears.

For In Gee Chun, it’s a story about more than her victory Sunday at the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

It’s about the other side of the Korean passion that runs so deep in women’s golf and that makes female players feel like rock stars.

It’s about the unrelenting pressure that comes with all that popularity.

Chun explained where her tears came from after her victory. She opened up about the emotional struggle she has faced trying to live up to the soaring expectations that come with being a young Korean superstar.

Her coach, Won Park, told on Wednesday that there were times over the last year that Chun wanted to “run and hide from golf.” The pressure on her to end a two-year victory drought was mounting in distressing fashion.

Chun, 24, burst onto the world stage when she was 20, winning the U.S. Women’s Open before she was even an LPGA member. When she won the Evian Championship two years later, she joined Korean icon Se Ri Pak as the only players to win major championships as their first two LPGA titles.

Following up on those victories was challenging, with Chun feeling as if nothing short of winning was good enough to satisfy Korean expectations.

After the victory at Evian, Chun recorded six second-place finishes, runner-up finishes that felt like failures with questions growing back home over why she wasn’t closing out.

“There were comments that were quite vicious, that were very hard to take as a person and as a woman,” Chun said. “I really wanted to rise above that and not care about those comments, but I have to say, some of them lingered in my mind, and they really pierced my heart.”

Chun struggled going from the hottest star in South Korea to feeling like a disappointment. She slipped from No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings to No. 27 going into last week’s KEB Hana Bank Championship. Maybe more significantly, she slipped from being the highest ranked Korean in the world to where she wasn’t even among the top 10 Koreans anymore.

“Some fans and the Korean golf media were hard on her, mostly on social media,” Park wrote in an email. “It caused her to start struggling with huge depression and socio phobia. She often wished to run away from golf and hide herself where there was no golf at all.”

Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

Socio phobia includes the fear of being scrutinized or judged by others, according to the Mayo Clinic’s definition of conditions.

Though critics of South Korea’s dominance have complained about the machine-like nature of some those country’s stars, we’ve seen quite a bit of emotion from South Koreans on big stages this year.

After Sung Hyun Park won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in July, the world No. 1 with the steely stare uncharacteristically broke into tears.

“This is the first time feeling this kind of emotion,” Park said back then. “It’s been a really tough year for me.”

It was the second of her three victories this season, a year in which she also has missed seven cuts.

“A lot of pressure builds up,” said David Jones, her caddie. “That’s just what happens when you’re that good, and you’re Korean.”

While American players admire the massive popularity Koreans enjoy in their homeland, they see what comes with it.

“Koreans really do elevate their women players, but at the same time, they put a ton of pressure on them,” American Cristie Kerr said. “There’s pressure on them to not only be good, but to be attractive, and to do the right things culturally.”

So Yeon Ryu felt the pressure to perform build as high as she has ever felt with Koreans trying to qualify for the Olympics two years ago. The competition to make the four-woman team was intense, with so many strong Koreans in the running.

“This just makes me crazy,” Ryu said back then. “The biggest thing is the Korean media. If someone is going to make the Olympics, they're a great player. But if somebody cannot make it, they're a really bad player.”

Ryu didn’t make that team, but she went on to share LPGA Rolex Player of the Year honors with Sung Hyun Park last year. She also won her second major championship and ascended to world No. 1.

LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park was under fire going to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She was coming back from injury and there was growing criticism of her. She was hearing clamor to give up her spot to a healthy player, but she went on to win the gold medal.

“I almost cried on air,” said Na Yeon Choi, a nine-time LPGA winner who was doing analysis for Korean TV. “Inbee had so much pressure on her.”

After the Koreans won the UL International Crown two weeks ago, there was as much relief as joy in their ranks. Though viewed as the dominant force in women’s golf, they watched the Spaniards crowned as the “best golfing nation” in the inaugural matches in 2014 and then watched the Americans gain the honor in 2016. There was pressure on the Koreans to win the crown at home.

“There were some top Koreans who didn’t want to play, because there was going to be so much pressure,” Kerr said.

Chun got the nod to join the team this year after Inbee Park announced she was stepping aside, to allow another Korean a chance to represent their country. Chun was the third alternate, with Sei Young Kim and Jin Young Ko saying they were passing to honor previous KLPGA commitments.

Chun went on to become the star of the UL International Crown. She was undefeated, the only player to go 4-0 in the matches.

“In Gee made up her mind to devote herself to the team and played with an extremely high level of passion and focus,” Won Park wrote in an email interview. “She took the International Crown as a war in her heart. She did not play, but she `fought’ against the course, not against the opposing team . . . During all four winning matches, she gradually found her burning passion deep in her heart and wanted to carry it to the LPGA KEB Hana Bank.”

Park explained he has been working with Chun to change her focus, to get her to play for herself, instead of all the outside forces she was feeling pressure to please.

“She was too depressed to listen for a year and a half,” Park wrote.

So that’s where all Chun’s tears came from after she won the KEB Hana Bank.

“All the difficult struggles that I have gone through the past years went before me, and all the faces of the people who kept on believing in me went by, and so I teared up,” Chun said.

Park said Chun’s focus remains a work in progress.

“Although it will take some more time to fully recover from her mental struggle, she at least got her wisdom and confidence back and belief in her own game,” Park wrote. “This is never going to be easy for a 24-year-old young girl, but I believe she will continue to fight through.”